To bring anyone unaware up to speed, all four members of Viola Beach - Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Jack Dakin and Tomas Lowe - were killed earlier this year in a car crash in Sweden. The accident which also claimed the life of the band's manager. This posthumous debut is therefore a snapshot of the album the band were in the process of making, a tragically short legacy of eight tracks plus a BBC live session recording.
If the human tragedy weren't enough, the music left behind is more than enough evidence that Viola Beach were a hugely promising band and well on their way to producing a fantastic debut. A potent mixture of the regional charm of Artic Monkeys and the summery exuberance of Vampire Weekend, the tracks here all demonstrate a powerful understanding of exactly what makes a great pop song. Calling card “Swings & Waterslides” is giddy, toe-tapping and thoroughly infectious, “Go Outside” is like “Oxford Comma” on a sugar high (or rather more of a sugar high), the gorgeous “Really Wanna Call” hints at depths of talent that will, devastatingly, forever go unfulfilled.
I'm not going to give this a score as it feels somewhat unnecessary. The minimum tribute these guys deserve is 30 minutes of your time to glimpse the world they were creating. It was going to be a cracker.
- Andy West